With a warm spring in Boston this year and a hot summer fast approaching, think about how your daily activities will change as the temperatures climb. Now think about your dog. Just like you, he gets hot and exhausted if exposed to brutal summer heat for too long…and he’s got fur! Dogs can overheat very quickly, and canine heatstroke can cause brain damage, organ failure and even death for dogs. Preventing it doesn’t take that much effort and is mostly common sense.
Learn to recognize the signs. Most of the time, you’ll be able to tell if your dog’s starting to overheat. Dogs pant to release heat instead of sweating like we do, so the most obvious sign is heavy and quick panting. He might also get a bit agitated, behave more sluggishly, and have a dry nose because of dehydration. But remember, puppies or dogs with a lot of energy in particular might not display their heat exhaustion as prominently, so don’t only wait for the visible signs. The best way to deal with heatstroke is to prevent it.
Just a Trim Please
First of all, if your dog has long fur, considering getting him a summer haircut, trimming his hair down significantly more than you usually would. There are some great groomers all over Boston too. Groomers are used to this kind of request and will be happy to oblige. He may look a little different than usual, but if it means making him more comfortable in the summer heat, do it! You don’t wear your winter coat in the summer months, so why should your dog?
Keep your dog indoors during the summer as much as possible. Try to time his walks or outdoor exercise before 10am and after 4pm, the hours when the sun is at its hottest. If he does have to be outside during those hours in extreme heat, keep it to an absolute minimum! Try to keep him relaxed and in the shade with an ample supply of cool water. Keeping your dog properly hydrated is one of the keys to avoiding heatstroke. Always, always make sure he has plenty to drink.
Take it Easy, Hero
If you’re going out for a long walk along the Charles or the Jamaica Way, bringing along a few frozen water bottles is an excellent option, as they will melt quickly and provide both you and he with chilly refreshment when you need it. By all means, Limit play of vigorous games like fetch or Frisbee for long periods in the sun. Your dog ‘s body temperature will rise very quickly even after a few minutes of this.
Down by the Pool
If your dog craves to be outdoors in the summer (who doesn’t?) then try to make her activities more involved with water. A walk down at Nantasket beach offers sand sun and water. Take in a park like the Arnold Arboretum to get woods sun and water. Let him splash around in a kiddy pool, go swimming, or play with you and the hose. Covering him with cool water will keep his body temperature down. As a side note, if you do suspect your dog is overheating when outdoors, spraying him down with the hose is one of the quickest ways to get his body temperature back to normal.
Just In Case You Forgot
This last one should go without saying, but it’s in the news every year anyway I have to beat you all over the head with it. Never, ever, EVER leave your dog in a hot car during the summer. Even if you think you just need to run into the store for a minute, don’t do it. It doesn’t matter if you roll the windows down or not: The solar fueled oven is one of the worst places for your dog in the brutal summer heat. Cars trap heat very effectively and become literal furnaces fit for no living thing.
Think ahead and keep your dog safe this summertime. You can both enjoy the sun and the outdoors in moderation and safety, just keep all the above tips in mind. Have Fun!